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Lady Eleanor by Blue Ensign - Vanguard Models - Scale 1:64

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Post 2

Basic assembly continued.


Simple assembly continues with everything fitting together as perfect as a jigsaw puzzle without anything puzzling.


Follow the manual and you can’t go wrong, Chris’s many years of experience as a designer and builder show through. Everything is numbered, everything is clear. For the novice builder there are no headaches here.


At this stage I bring a support board into use.




I used the slightly modified board I used for the Alert build, the two hull lengths are not that different.


The Fish hatch framing slots into place on the lower deck with a precision fit.


Well it didn’t last long into the build, but at this point I make a minor modification.


None of what follows is necessary, or has any real impact on the build, but I can’t help myself, and one of my foibles is that I like to have a glimpse of below decks, which I feel adds interest, and gives an impression of depth to a model.




Firstly, I boarded out the lower deck within the Fish hatch framing, with 0.6mm boxwood strip on the basis that I don’t know at this stage how much of the hatch cover I will eventually leave open.

 I also may wish to open the sliding companionway roof or doors.




To this end that section of the false keel between bulkheads 9 and 10 needs to be removed and an extension to the lower deck fashioned, easily done using spare mdf from the parts framing.




This completes the extent of my lower deck planking.




I coated the bulkhead surfaces with slightly diluted pva and slotted the sub deck into place. I found it best to slot one side partly into place, flex the deck up, and tease it into the other side.




This is a little tricky and one of the bulkhead tabs did break off during the fitting, and once in place in the designated slots I still needed to weight and use elastic bands the hold the deck down at the edges.


 I think getting the deck out again would be a fraught business risking splitting the deck and breaking tabs.




Next morning I also painted diluted pva on the underside of the deck along the bulkhead join.




There is a fair bit sheer on a Fifie.



This completes the basic carcass assembly; things will get a little more testy in the next phase of the build.





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Thanks James,  testy is a relative term 😃


@ Chris, the deck is of excellent quality, I think I was more concerned about the bulkhead tabs,  there can't be that many circumstances when the deck would have to come out again, but I wouldn't like to have to do it.

I  am  really impressed by the accuracy of the fitting of the parts thus far. 👍




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6 hours ago, Blue Ensign said:

Thanks James,  testy is a relative term 😃


@ Chris, the deck is of excellent quality, I think I was more concerned about the bulkhead tabs,  there can't be that many circumstances when the deck would have to come out again, but I wouldn't like to have to do it.

I  am  really impressed by the accuracy of the fitting of the parts thus far. 👍




Before deciding on final structural materials, I did buy a batch of 'standard kit' ply, poplar ply, which is used in many kits. I found that it was woefully weak, look how many tabs are missing just from me attempting to dry fit the 0.8mm ply deck! Looked great, presentation wise, but useless for anything else.

Poplar laser cut sample 2.jpg

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Good evening Maurice,looking good so far. I knew you couldn't resist a bit of kit bashing :D Keep up the good work.


Dave :dancetl6:

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I’m not much a fan of fishing vessels, but this is a great looking model I may need to add to my collection once I negotiate for more display space. 

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Thanks Dave, and Glenn,😃 

Post 3


Fairing and Second thoughts


The bulk of the chamfering is on bulkheads 1 – 3 and 9 – 11 and the infill pieces also need additional fining down to suit. Less fairing is required on bulkhead 4 and 8, and barely any on bulkheads 5,6, and 7. But the sanding needs to create a smooth run across all bulkheads at all levels, using a strip to check, and the process did take me longer than the suggested hour for this work.




The whole structure is rock solid now, and fairing on this shaped hull is about as straightforward as it gets.


Thinking about decking - A pause for thought


The kit provides a very nice etched deck which I initially found appealing, thinking that will save me the bother of doing it myself.



However, I find myself getting less enthused about it, and if I’m going to change my mind I need to do it now before I fit the bulwarks, so I can more easily mark out a decking plan on the base deck.


I think the primary issue for me is that it looks a little too neat and navy fashion with a regular three shift butt pattern for what would be a humble and cheaply built fishing boat.


Once these thoughts get into your mind it’s hard to dismiss them.


Those new to the hobby, and this kit is really directed at that market, will no doubt find its inclusion of great benefit, but it is a kit that also allows us serial interferers plenty of scope to go our own way.🙄




With an overall deck length just shy of seventy feet, and a large hatch midships the need for plank butts is very much reduced, as most planks within the area are well within the maximum lengths available for single runs up to the nibbing, both fore and aft.


The longest scale planks on the etched deck are 80mm, a tad short of 17’


 At this point I don’t actually know how these small boats were decked but I suspect that it was possibly slightly more random, using available timber to the best effect to keep costs down.


The builders would presumably still adhere to good practise of not having adjoining butts on the same beam, or adjacent butts too close to each other.


There is also a scale aesthetic to be considered so that any pattern doesn’t look unbalanced on the model but I think the model can be reasonably planked with far less butt joints than indicated on the etched deck.




Fore and aft of the fish hatch within the bounds of the coamings the maximum uninterrupted plank run is 23’ (110mm) and it is not really necessary to have butts until outside of the hatch coaming line.




An important factor is that I do have the makings to deck out the model ( Boxwood strip 0.6mm x 3.4mm as used on the lower deck.)


 So, I’ll take time out to review the situation and before I move on see if I can come up with a plan that pleases my eye.







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I fully agree with your assessment of the deck situation. I understand why Chris would provide a "perfect" deck in the kit, as most builders will want their model to look perfect.

However, for a fishing boat, the reality is somewhat different.



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Thank you Yves,  a laid deck will obviously look more natural, and in my case certainly more in keeping with the build which won't match the purity of the etched deck.

It remains to be seen whether I made the right decision once I have completed the large amount of nibbing involved.

There may be a lot of loose nets lying around the deck. 😉



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I think the problem with any single piece deck no matter how perfectly it is laid out or marked is that the large natural wood grain crosses over the planking boundaries unavoidable advertising that its a single piece.  Personal preference of course, but I find it very hard to unsee once its been noticed.  Laying individual planks, even if less perfectly, seems (again to my eye) a better way to go as the grain and slight imperfections seem to blend and disappear.  Interested to see which way you go.

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I understand the desire to plank it, I have a maple deck for Speedy/Flirt I got from Chris. It just looks so good I will use it. I have enough holly planked decks, this one time I’m going to forgo that experience. 

I do like planking the lower deck, I’m sure this model will look great with the hatch open. Maybe throw some fish blood in their to liven it up 🤣😂

As Soyglass says, we all knew you’d bash it 😊

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44 minutes ago, Beef Wellington said:

I think the problem with any single piece deck no matter how perfectly it is laid out or marked is that the large natural wood grain crosses over the planking boundaries unavoidable advertising that its a single piece.

Exactly right - that was my finding with the Speedy deck, which is why I eventually decided to plank over it. I thought long and hard about it though, not least because I don't want any newcomers to the forum or less experienced modellers to be put off Vanguard kits. Chris has done a superb job designing and producing these models and I would hate anyone to get the impression that there is anything 'wrong' with the etched decks or any of the other components. Built straight out of the box any Vanguard kit will deliver a superb model. It's just that serial kit bashers will always look for ways to make their own mark on a kit. I've bashed models in the past to make up for deficiencies in design and materials. Not so with Speedy - in a minor way I'm modifying the kit to further enhance the model, not correct it.



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The Zulu Lady Isabella kit I bought is on track to arrive Thursday and I'm very curious to see the laser etched deck as well. I love these fishing vessels and I'll have to think long and hard about whether I want a beautiful, clean model of one or a hard working, more weathered and rough model to display. It certainly would be easier for me to make a nice, clean model since weathering would be entirely new to me. 

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Cheers Guys,


@ spy – can’t help myself, not good odds spy. 😃


@ Jason – I can’t see much evidence of cross graining on the maple veneered etch, it appears a very fine and straight grain, but I don’t know at this stage whether applying matt varnish would reveal anything.

 I will have a final chance to look at the etched deck once the hull has been completed.


@ Glenn – when you’ve always had to plank decks, imperfect as it may or may not be, it’s hard to change, but it will be useful to see when the first batch of models, using the etched decks are completed.


@ Derek – Well said, and a good point, I had the same thoughts myself when I built the Alert kit. However, once a kit is out there it is up to the builder to report as they find, modify to their own satisfaction, and it is for others to take from it what they will.

Chris has made a major contribution to the ship modelling world, I’ve thought, and said so, since I built his Pegasus designed model for Amati.

All of the Vanguard range of kits are very appealing, and some of the best I’ve seen, particularly from the point of view of builders new to the hobby. Chris has put a great deal of effort  into the kits to provide a good oob experience for the first time builder.


@ Bob - weathering is a tricky business, and I don't think I'll be going there either, except  in a very subtle way in some areas, I've just got a feeling that a laid deck will suit the model type better, we shall see.🙂 



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Post 4

Bulwark Preparation and fitting


Fitting bulwarks is often a tricky part of a build. The Fifie ones are simpler than many and I like the way Chris has etched the fitting line on the inside to assist the process.


The parts are marked as left and right, or port and starboard looking from stern to stem, and contain etched markings for the locations of the inboard timberheads.



I soaked the pieces in hot water as suggested, but once temporarily fitted to impart the curve, I also gave a blast of hot air from the hairdryer.



Holding the bulwarks in position against the bulkhead tabs is easy. Holding the bottom edge against the bulkheads less so.




I used the converted Fold back clip method. I think Amati have brought out an enhanced version, as shown in James’s log.



The deck has been marked with beam positions and a centre line against which the planking will ultimately be laid.



With the required curve achieved, fitting is relatively straightforward, just ensure that the fitting line and joint are properly aligned.




I did find that the fold back clips weren’t quite strong enough to hold the bottom edges firm against all the bulkheads when it came to gluing, particularly where the two pieces joined. Use of the provided brass pins resolved the situation, but a pin pusher is advisable.



The cutter-like sheer is clearly apparent in this photo.


With the bulwarks now in place, the first planking can commence.








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Post 5


First planking


A word about my approach to planking this hull.


The proposed method of first planking works fairly well for a first layer as it will ultimately be covered up, but it won’t tell you anything about how to properly plank a hull, or produce the best result with the second planking.


Planking should be relatively straightforward on this hull shape, and for the purposes of this first planking I took a partial tick strip and edge bending approach, which should result in a hull completed without the need to use stealers.


I did mark off the plank widths at each bulkhead as a guide but effectively use only bulkheads 1 and 11 for the purposes of the taper.

By using this approach I can see how the shape of the planks develop as I proceed which will be of benefit when I apply the more important Pearwood layer.


This will be the first model I have built where the stem, stern, and keel are not in place, before I start planking which seems a little strange to me, but I’ll run with it.


The Limewood planks do readily bend around this hull, but to take a little fight out of them I do soak before temporarily fitting, and applying hot air on max temp.

They are then glue, pinned, and clamped.


I fitted the first three planks without tapering, they followed the line of the bulwark with a gentle edge bend, and without recourse to water or heat.



I then fitted the Garboard plank.

This is a simple affair with a full plank run along the keel line, a benefit of the simple hull shape. No concerns about where to terminate or shape it at the bow end.


The remaining space at midships (bulkhead 6) is 9 strakes of 5mm strip.

As I work down the hull I paint the inside of the hull planking with slightly diluted pva, this strengthens the planking joins and helps reduce the risk of a sprung plank. This is only possible down to strake six as the gap is then too narrow.


After the first three strakes the planks required tapering at both ends, as the hull is virtually the same shape at both stem and stern. These are quite long tapers.



I found that a degree of edge bend, imparted by water/heat, was required from around bulkhead 8 towards the stern, but from midships to the stem the tapered plank followed the line with little resistance.



With six strakes fitted from the top, I return to add a strake above the Garboard, and then return to planking from the top.


The idea is that as I am using only single width planks, any remaining gap for the final plank that requires spiling will appear on the underside of the hull.



When I came to plank 7 down from the bulwark, some edge bending both forward and aft was required.



This is the shape required. The edge bend is downwards which appears counter intuitive when you look at the upward sweep of the planking.



Nearing completion of the first planking.


One of the drawbacks with kits is that they generally only supply one width of planking for the hull. In a properly planked hull there would be wider planks particularly for the Garboard, and for the plank runs towards the stern.



With two strakes to go there is an annoying 2mm wide gap at midships, not entirely unexpected, and simply requires a wider board to suit.


I fitted one more supplied strip, down from the top.



This one needed the full treatment with tapering both ends, edge bending, and a twist at both ends to lie against the keel. leaving a slightly wider plank to complete.




The final two planks will require to be spiled.




I use Tamiya tape to give me a template to work to.


In the absence of a wider limewood strip I cut the final spiled planks from some 1mm Boxwood sheet. It is then simply a matter of scrape and try, until the plank fits.





First planking completed, it will now be sanded and scraped smooth, with hopefully minimal filler required.






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Thanks Bob, 👍


Post Six


Completing the first stage


Hull sanding is one of my least favourite jobs, but fortunately this one is not too onerous.


I did pay particular attention to the line between the bulwark and first planking strake to ensure no ridge, and I use the blind feel test to seek out any irregularities.


I finally use a thin flexible strip to run vertically down each station to detect any gaps or bumps.


In total I used 24 of the provided Limewood strips, scrapped one, (wayward taper) and replaced two with wider strips.


Stem, Stern post, and keel

With the first planking completed, this is the next stage.



The termination of my first planking leaves something to be desired, this was perhaps the worst example.


A neat straight line as indicated in the manual photo’s on page 17 it ain’t.


I found it quite tricky to trial fit the stem and sternpost parts and both snapped at the weak points where they connect at the top. Fortunately, it is an issue easily overcome.



To straighten the planking line up I used the Pearwood rabbet patterns aligned to the stem and stern to mark the planking line which was then trimmed using a scalpel.


The method Chris has devised is rather good. Small wooden pegs align the pieces perfectly, and the whole process is painless.


Some minor filling was required to present a clean line, but  there is a second bite at the cherry, as the second planking will hide it all.




The keel pieces slotted into place without further issue, the provided clamps to hold the section in alignment are a nice touch.



I made the simplest of jigs to hold the hull inverted, necessary once the second planking begins.




The rectangular block simply slots into the fish hold to keep the hull secure.

To complete this section the Pearwood rabbet strips are put into place, using the pegs provided to ensure alignment.


Before gluing the Pearwood rabbet patterns there is a final opportunity to assess the rebate against which the second planking will terminate, and whether the first planking needs a final tweak to suit.









After two weeks fairly leisurely work the hull is ready for the second planking.







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I wanted to thank you very much. I'm just finishing the fairing of my Eleanor.


Your adventures on your efforts to do the first planking will be very helpful for me.



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Post seven



Second Planking




Before I start planking, I draw the bulkhead positions down the hull so I can mark the tick strip positions once I’m past the first few strakes.



I will be using the provided 1x4mm Pearwood strip, and apart from any other consideration, I think the colour is more appropriate for a humble fishing boat than my usual Boxwood.



I have no worries about sufficiency of the provided strip, as I still have the supply I didn’t use on the Alert build.



The Pearwood strip is of an even colour but there are some strips better than others. Each strip has a better side and I sorted them for use above and below the waterline, before starting.



Sanding will sort out most of the issues but it makes sense to use the best for the unpainted areas.



My approach is to cut the planks and then heat treat whilst dry fitting to take the tension out of the strip before gluing.



The first two strakes down from the bulwark are easy to clamp in place whilst the glue sets, but thereafter things get more tricky.





From the third strake down I am using plastic coated drawing pins to hold the strips in place after gluing.



These press easily into the Limewood planking and the heads are large enough to cover most of the plank width, whilst the steel pin holds the plank up tight to the one above.




Down to the fifth strake larger clamps secured in the deck recesses suffice to hold the planks in place, along with the pins.




Below the fifth strake the drawing pins will be the only clamping aid plus the use of ca for quick grab.

I do worry about getting ca on the Pearwood surface and have a handy bottle of Acetone to wipe down the wood surface immediately after gluing.



Useful as it is, I don’t like using ca over extensive areas, and following a test on the sixth strake I found I could restrict it to the bow and stern areas, and use pva for the rest.



In the manual Chris mentions that he was able to fit five strakes of planking without tapering.




I found that seven strakes fitted without any need for tapering.




Port bow



Starboard stern.



I need to keep checking which way around the boat is with this ‘whaler’ shape.



The next stage will require tapering of planks, so I will fit the Garboard plank, and mark off the plank lines down the bulkhead positions using a tick strip.







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Post Eight



Fitting the Garboard and working out the plank runs.




I decided to fit a wider Garboard plank, and used a 5mm Walnut strip for the purpose, as this area will be painted.



With the Garboard strake in place I can work out the remaining plank requirements. There are thirteen strakes left to complete.




Each will require individual tapering and edge bending to suit.



I am using a combination of ca for the plank ends at stem and stern, and pva in-between.




I used the tick strip method to guide the runs marking the centre bulkhead (6) and bulkheads 1,3, 9, and 11. I didn’t think it necessary to mark all the bulkhead divisions with this shape of hull.




At this point I am ten strakes down from the bulwark and below the painted area.




I do tend to partly clean up the hull as I progress, taking some of the roughness off the planks.



Some of the strakes are fitted in two halves usually because I made a mess of the tapering or length, but this is not an issue.

Had I been planking correctly butt joints would have been required.



In practise I think it a little easier to fit the strakes in two halves, but the butt joints do need to be staggered down the hull.



With five strakes to go I return to fit another strake above the Garboard, this also I have fitted without taper.





To complete the hull planking I did need to install a final spiled plank which was worked to be on the underside of the hull.





The final plank to fit.








Always pleased when this aspect is completed.




Well not quite completed, there is a fair bit of cleaning up to do on the hull, scraping and sanding to get it ready for the next stage.









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Wonderful planking job, BE, and an excellent build log as well!  I have the Lady Isabella, which has a very similar hull shape, and will refer to your planking posts as a guide when I plank the hull.


Do you use medium viscosity CA? I used it exclusively for planking the hull of the Pen Duick I'm currently building. I tend to use it quite a lot and prefer it for planking since I don't have to engage in all kinds of creative clamping and waiting for glue to dry. 


However, sometimes I have a problem with it not grabbing securely and I end up having to lift the plank a little and sand the area lightly before reapplying the CA. That usually happens when there is still too much tension in the plank. So I probably need to spend more time getting the plank to lay more quietly without any tension before gluing it. I like your idea of only using it when you need a quick grab at the ends of the planks and necessarily using it on the entire length of every plank.


I'm really enjoying following your build.

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Great to see you're into the mods, B.E. I was interested in your comments about the look of the deck, so I had a look in Edgar March's book on sailing trawlers but there's not much there on decking. I know the fifie was a drifter rather than a trawler, but if you don't have the book and if it helps, the following is what is said about smack design:


"The covering board of 12 by 2½ in. oak was laid over the heads of the frames, stanchions fitted through the mortices and bolted to shelf or frames, the deck planks were pitch pine, 5 by 2½ in, with a margin plank varying in width according to the beam of the hull. Planks had to be joggled into the covering board when the "snape" or diagonal cut across the width left a nib-end less than 2in wide, a sliver edge being impossible to caulk."


Also in case you've not already seen it, there's the website on the restoration of the Swan which shows pictures of the deck, but that is in its modern re-incarnation so probably is of no use to you. The one picture of it in its original state doesn't seem sharp enough to see the deck planking details. The book on the Swan may give you more if you need it.



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Thanks Tony, that is a useful reference.

It is a constant frustration for us modellers that these detail items are so difficult to find, even less so with humble commercial boats, and I know very little about fishing boats at present.

There are other things buzzing around my head such as the working of the rudder and connection to the wheel, I have e-mailed the Reaper museum in Scotland  asking if they have any info on this.

I am still  wobbling over whether to plank  her myself or save myself the trouble and use the etched deck, but the older I get, the less decisive I seem to get.🙄







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You might also get some ideas from the Dutch herring boats of the period. I think I read somewhere that they were very similar to the fifies (perhaps in the book 'Inshore Craft: Traditional Working Vessels of the British Isles' by Basil Greenhill, but I may be mistaken. They operated in the same area of the North Sea. Ab Hoving is an expert on Dutch vessels so you might pm him, and Kees de Mol has a nice model of a Dutch Herring Lugger  which shows a wheel positioned similarly to that on the Lady Eleanor.


Model Shipwright no 118 had a modeller's draught and plans of the Reaper . However, I don't think you'll find details of the steering mechanism there.



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I have the Greenhill book, and MS118, and Scottish Fishing vessels by James Pottinger.


Thanks for the link to the log by Kees de Mol, a very nice build, and one where strict three shift butt patterns are not in evidence. 😉


Thanks for for your help Tony,



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